One of the most dangerous activities to engage in while driving, outside of alcohol and drug use, is using a cell phone. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 28% of all traffic accidents are directly related to using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. It is estimated that most of the accidents could have been avoided if the driver was not engaged in conversation or text messaging behind the wheel.
Successfully operating an automobile requires careful attention to the surrounding traffic, signs, roads, and pedestrians. When an individual’s attention is taken away from the road, even momentarily, dire consequences often result.
There is a deep concern that society’s addiction to the cell phone will continue to distract drivers from the road ahead. Convincing drivers to pull over to use the cell phone has proven a hard sell. In order to reduce the rate of collisions on the roadways, new laws have been enacted to prevent cell phone use while driving. Unfortunately, the laws don’t seem to be working. People are still using cell phones while driving, despite a greater overall awareness of the problem.
In reviewing statistical information regarding this serious issue, some numbers show little difference in the actual number of accidents related to cell phones and those who do not have such laws on the books. Washington D.C. has a ban on cell phone use while driving, yet the accident rates in the capitol do not vary much from the states that do not have such laws.
The lack of change in statistics is likely due to lack of enforcement. There are some laws that indicate the driver must be stopped by law enforcement for a more serious driving offense, and subsequently can be fined for cell phone use if the officer has reason to believe the law has been broken. This version of the law is similar to that of the seat belt law, but that law has been much more successful.
The fines imposed on drivers for cell phone use while driving vary by state. But the big problem is the inability or apathy of traffic officers in actually enforcing the laws. Some have suggested making it easier to convict distracted drivers by allowing courts to subpoena cell phone records of the driver suspected of violating the cell phone law. While this may seem a simple and obvious way to prove the violation, privacy issues often prevent effective enforcement.
Regardless of the exact laws regarding cell phone usage while driving, the dangers of divided attention while on the road speak volumes. The potential for accidents goes up as attention goes down.
If an inattentive driver caused you serious injury, be sure to contact our office for a free consultation and evaluation of your case. While law enforcement may have difficulty proving distracted driving, a court of law offers a wider range of powers in securing information to prove a case.